Minnesota – The Minnesota Zoo announced on Friday afternoon that eleven genetically rare bisons were selected to be accommodated in its installations, following an agreement to preserve them issued by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2012, according to a Minnesota Zoo press release.
The Minneopa State park, close to Mankato, was chosen to keep the bisons. It will be closed until the bisons get acclimated, according to the information provided by Kathy Dummer, regional manager for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division, in the press release. “We anticipate opening things back up by mid-October.”
Several reasons were taken into account to do the selection. “The park has a large potential audience with over 200,000 people within 50 miles, numerous nearby educational institutions are potential research partners, the park contains sufficient prairie to accommodate a bison herd, and the reintroduction of bison will help naturally manage the prairie landscape”, says the Minnesota Zoo.
Eight bisons were brought from Blue Mounds State Park while the other three came from the Minnesota Zoo. Their hope is to raise the number up to 40. Only 20,000 bisons out of 500,000 in the U.S. fit the category.
“Over the last four years, that’s been part of the planning work that’s gone on… to really think about how could we do this,” said Kathy Dummer to KARE 11, regional manager for the Minnesota DNR’s Parks and Trails.
Bisons were reintroduced to Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, Minnesota in 1961. Genetic testing done on the bisons in 2011-2013 found that they were largely free from cross-breeding with cattle making them very rare, said Tony Fisher in a DNR press release, Director of Animal Collections for the zoo.
Fixing the bison’s new home
The DNR also informed about the conditions needed to accommodate the bisons, including a year-round water source, a fence to surround them, and archaeological work must be done until they make sure no resources could be harmed.
In addition to that, visitors will be able to drive personal vehicles on a special road to observe them. According to the DNR press release, “the interpretive focus will be the historic relationship between bison and humans”.